Earthquakes can happen anytime and without warning. Did you know that earthquakes that occur near the surface of the globe are more damaging than those that happen deep within the earth’s crust? Or the HYPOCENTER is where the vibration actually happens in the ground, and the point directly above the earthquake’s focus on the surface is known as the EPICENTER? Being educated about an earthquake may one day save your life, since understanding the terminology and properties of an earthquake can help you be better prepared if perchance you were ever to maintain one. Following are three basic components that may help improve your knowledge of, and possibly help you escape the devastation ofan earthquake, an earthquake.
1. PLATE BOUNDARIES. The earth’s crust is broken up into large moving plates known as TECTONIC PLATES. The majority of earthquakes occur along plate boundaries. The largest is the Pacific Plate that encircles the Pacific Ocean. It is referred to as the RING OF FIRE and includes the majority (more than 75%) of volcanic eruptions. The Ring of Fire isn’t actually a complete ring, just forming a horseshoe shape beginning with the Tonga-Kormadec Trench that is located northeast of the New Zealand islands and wrapping around to the Peru-Chili Trench in South America and the South Sandwich Trench just east of the South Sandwich Islands. The earth’s plates are always moving, bumping into each other. Whenever these plates move towards each other with enough pressure, and slip past one another, an earthquake occurs.
2. MAGNITUDE. The magnitude is how the power or intensity of an earthquake is measured based on the movement recorded by an earthquake-detecting instrument called a SEISMOGRAPH. The higher the magnitude, the more extreme an earthquake is. As an example, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 will be much larger and, therefore, more destructive than one measuring at 2.1. The size of an earthquake can vary, depending on many factors including the geography and the thickness of the quake. Usually a large earthquake also generates many smaller earthquakes after the larger sequence. The larger an earthquake steps, the more aftershocks could be generated and can linger for longer amounts of time.
3. INJURY. The harm that may come from an earthquake is often not from the first earthquake itself but from natural and man-made structures which can collapse on people during the shaking. If you happen to be outside during an earthquake, move away from buildings,power lines, and anything else that could fall on you. If you are inside a building, get under a desk or table and protect your head from any falling debris. You might even stand against an interior wall for security. Stay away from exterior walls, windows, anything including glass, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances. If you’re driving, pull off to the side of the road, out of traffic, and stop. If you’re in the hills, beware of the possibility of a landslide.
Earthquakes happen on a daily basis, yet most of them are seldom felt because they are so small. They can not yet be predicted, which makes them even more deadly in the case of larger earthquakes. If you reside in an earthquake zone, where earthquakes occur often, it’s an excellent idea to learn more and be ready in case you were ever to experience one. It might be the difference between trauma or even survival.